COVID-19: Health Minister Promulgates Regulations

Although NEASA has a moral obligation to inform members of current statutory obligations, for the following reasons, NEASA distances itself from the regulations dealt with herein: 

  • the wearing of masks is a ridiculous, nonsensical arrangement;
  • the preferential treatment of so-called ‘vaccinated’ individuals, where it is generally accepted that vaccination does not prevent transmission or infection, is irrational;
  • the differential treatment between individuals entering the country and local citizens, is arbitrary; and the different vaccination requirements for gatherings versus vaccinated for purposes of workplace safety, are irrational.

The Minister of Health, last night, at the eleventh hour, promulgated amended Covid-19 regulations in terms of the Health Act.

These regulations replaced those issued under the Disaster Management Act, which expired at midnight on 4 May 2022, following the lifting of the state of disaster on 5 April 2022.

The effect of this is that these new regulations will remain in place until the Minister deems it prudent to cancel them by publication to this effect in a Government Gazette. It also means that the Minister can reintroduce these measures at any time should he deem it necessary.

The regulations are as follows:  

  • masks are still required to be worn indoors in any public venue including workplaces and public transport;
  • gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 50% of a venue’s capacity, provided that a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test (not older than 72 hours) is required for entry;
  • gatherings are permitted to a maximum of 1000 people indoors, or 2000 people outdoors where a vaccination certificate or PCR test is not a requirement for entry, or 50% of capacity for smaller venues;
  • travelers entering South Africa must present a vaccination certificate or negative Covid-19 PCR test, not older than 72 hours, or an antigen test, not older than 48 hours or a positive Covid-19 PCR test as set out below. 

It is interesting to note that there are some glaring inconsistencies in the determination and implementation of regulations that are considered to be appropriate, for instance: 

  • “vaccinated against Covid-19” as contemplated in the new health regulations, is defined as having received at least one dose of an approved Covid-19 vaccine and this is sufficient to be granted entry to a public gathering. However, in terms of the “Code of Practice: Managing Exposure to SARS-COV-2 in the Workplace, 2022”, ‘vaccinated’ means fully vaccinated, including any booster shots.             

It seems nonsensical that a person may be allowed to attend so-called “super-spreader events” without being vaccinated at all (subject to a PCR test) or with a single dose of a vaccine, but may be excluded from his or her workplace, if not fully vaccinated. 

  • International travelers are permitted to enter South Africa under any of the following circumstances:
    • providing a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours;
    • providing a negative antigen test not older than 48 hours; or
    • provide a valid certificate of a positive PCR Covid-19 test, not older than 90 days prior to date of arrival, and dated not less than 10 days prior to date of arrival. 

However, the only acceptable test for entry to gatherings for South African citizens is a negative PCR test.

It seems that international travelers have a wide range of options to enter the country, including the recognition of prior infections, while South Africans within the country are not afforded the same luxury.

It should be noted that the implementation of the remainder of the draconian regulations, which were included in the draft regulations, has been postponed for at least three months, for further submissions and consultations. Consequently, due to the time-consuming nature of litigation, NEASA will not be challenging the regulations at this time, but will await the full set of regulations.

Click here to view the gazetted regulations.